We just wrapped up today’s City Council meeting, and I want to quickly highlight two important motions that we passed linked to transit.

First, we approved a month-by-month extension of the fare freeze beyond the end of March if LRT service does not improve. The fare freeze – estimated to cost about $340,000 per month – will be paid with money withheld from Rideau Transit Group due to the ongoing service problems.

The other motion was about releasing more information about the Stage 2 procurement process. I worked with the Mayor’s office to put this motion together, and it was eventually passed unanimously by City Council. (I was originally going to second this motion from the Mayor but in the end I stepped aside to let Councillor Menard be the seconder.) I’ve included the full motion below, but here’s a brief summary of what the motion does:

  • Releases Stage 2 LRT procurement documents, including the technical scores and evaluations. The City will also waive solicitor-client privilege and release the legal advice it received on the technical bid evaluations.
  • Engages an independent consultant to do a “lessons learned” exercise on the procurement process so that we can improve the process for Stage 3.
  • City staff will consult councillors and review the City’s Public-Private partnership policy, the purchasing by-law, and the delegation of authority by-law.

These are all important steps to start rebuilding public confidence and trust in the City and our transit system and I’m glad that City Council unanimously approved them. The procurement documents will be publicly available in the next few weeks.

Motion – LRT Stage 2 Procurement 

WHEREAS in Ontario, the Provincial government has made P3 procurement screening a requirement for partnership funding for projects of $100 million or greater in value to improve value for money as compared to more traditional procurement models such as design-bid-build (and this was also a requirement for federal funding for the Stage 2 LRT project); and

WHEREAS the Stage 2 Light Rail Transit (LRT) project, which was approved and deemed appropriate to be procured as a P3 by PPP Canada as a requirement for federal funding, incorporated a number of third-party review mechanisms for the Stage 2 LRT procurement process, including as follows:

  • A ‘Lessons Learned’ report from the Stage 1 LRT procurement, undertaken by a consultant;
  • An Independent Fairness Commissioner who oversaw the entire Stage 2 Procurement Process and confirmed “compliance with the fairness requirements of the RFQ and RFP process and further confirm that the process resulting in the selection of the winning proposal was consistent with the RFQ and RFP; and
  • An Independent Rail Certifier who indicated that the system met the requirements for substantial completion under the Project Agreement; and

WHEREAS, when questions were raised about the Stage 2 LRT procurement process, City Council also asked the City of Ottawa’s Auditor-General, a statutory officer that is independent of the City’s administration and who reports directly to Council, to audit this process; and

WHEREAS after having full and unfettered access to all procurement documentation with respect to the Stage 2 LRT procurement process and all City officials and advisors who oversaw the process, the City of Ottawa’s Auditor General and his independent consultant team (Samson and Associates) reported on November 26, 2019 that the procurement process was followed and was consistent and compliant with the Trillium Line RFP and that the delegated authorities were adhered to by City officials and advisors, but that improvements in the procurement process could be made; and

WHEREAS, due to the on-going problems with the Stage 1 LRT and bus operations over the course of the first five months of the service, Members of Council and the public are continuing to express concerns about the Stage 2 Trillium Line Procurement, in particular in light of the technical evaluation scores; and

WHEREAS, although staff has advised that the winning proponent, TNext (or TransitNext), was a technically compliant bid and that the technical parts of the bid that did not meet Council’s criteria for the project were addressed to the City’s satisfaction before the March 6, 2019 City Council meeting approving the selection of TransitNext and included in the executed contract, neither Council or the public has seen the documents that support staff’s assertions and they have a right to see them now that the procurement is closed; and

WHEREAS these documents would not be complete without Council and the public also seeing the legal opinion by Norton Rose Fulbright, dated October 23, 2018 and titled, “Trillium DBFM RFP-Technical Evaluation Bid Evaluation Steering Committee Discretion and Re-evaluation”; and

WHEREAS the City is currently completing the Environmental Assessment, preliminary engineering and costing on Stage 3 LRT which, once completed will extend LRT to the fast-growing communities of Barrhaven, Kanata and Stittsville and it is expected that the City will have a proposal ready for consideration by the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada by the end of 2020; and

WHEREAS, given that provincial funding for Stage 3 is anticipated to require the use of a P3 approach, and City Council’s decision on the Stage 3 Procurement Process should be informed by the lessons learned in Stage 1 and Stage 2 of LRT, starting with the improvements recommended by the City’s Auditor-General and augmented by a third-party review;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that City Council approve the following in substitution for the Motion from Councillors Menard and Meehan:

  1. That Council direct the City Manager to release the Stage 2 Light Rail Transit Trillium Line Project Procurement documents, including the technical compliance scores, the technical evaluations and the specific bid amendments made to the contract to ensure that Council’s criteria for the project are going to be met, to City Council and the public as soon as possible and in advance of the March 3, 2020 Finance and Economic Development Committee meeting; and
  1. that City Council waive its solicitor-client privilege with respect to the October 23, 2018 legal opinion by Norton Rose Fulbright, titled, “Trillium DBFM RFP-Technical Evaluation Bid Evaluation Steering Committee Discretion and Re-evaluation” so that it can be included for release with the above-noted procurement documents; and
  2. that an independent consultant be engaged to undertake a ‘Lessons Learned’ exercise on the Stage 2 Light Rail Transit Project Procurement Process, building on the recommendations in the Auditor-General’s November 26, 2019 report titled, “Audit of Stage 2 Light Rail Transit (LRT) Project Procurement”, as well as options to strengthen any of the following key public procurement principles: Transparency, Integrity, Value for Money, Openness, Fairness, Competition and Accountability, such that the work is completed in time for the Stage 3 procurement process; and
  3. that the scope of work and recommended consultant for the Lessons Learned exercise be brought to the Finance and Economic Development Committee and full Council for their approval by the end of Q2 2020, with the intention that the consultant’s report be presented to Committee and Council by November 2020; and
  4. that City Council direct staff to incorporate a review of the City’s Public-Private Partnership Policy, in addition to the City’s Purchasing By-law and the Delegation of Authority By-law, as part of the Mid-Term Governance Review process, which includes consultation with every Member of Council.